Thought for the Day - Bishop Tom Butler - 14/08/2012
Good morning. It’s not easy to knuckle down to the responsibilities of a working week and a wounded world after the excitements of the Olympic experience which has taken us all by surprise.
There’s a rather strange story in the Christian gospels which might be of help to us. It tells how Jesus goes up a mountain with his closest friends, Peter, James and John to be with God.
There they see Jesus transfigured, glowing with a bright aura. Nor is Jesus alone – In this vision Moses, representing the Law of God, and Elijah, representing God’s prophets also seem to be present and the transfixed disciples, hear God saying, "This is my Beloved Son. Listen to him.” Well, Peter and James and John want to hold on to that great vision, that peak experience, by making the mountain top their permanent base.
But they can’t because in the bible there are always two ingredients to any peak experience. Firstly, the experience deeply enriches its recipient, but secondly it leads directly to a deeper calling to involvement in the life of the world.
And so it was in this story. Peter, James, and John would gladly have stayed on the mountain top where the world was glowing with wonder and meaning but there was work to be done. Jesus leads them down from the mountain top and immediately the truth of messy, everyday experience challenges them and they’re facing a sick hysterical young man and a distraught father, and the reality of the world.
We all can be encouraged and uplifted by peak experiences. And we too want to hold on to golden moments such as we’ve experienced during the Olympics but the reality is that over time these may fade, and maybe it’s much better and wiser to regard them as pure gift, but perhaps to then be able to use that gift to see our messy, fragmented, bewildering world in a new light.
And in the Christian tradition there is that linkage. The transfigured Christ of the mountain top is also the healing teacher from Nazareth in the foothills. And hopefully so it will be in the aftermath to the Olympics; the determination and dedication demonstrated by the medal winners, the efficiency and effectiveness of the planners, the patience and good humour of the volunteers, the joy and exhilaration of the crowds; that dedication, that effectiveness, that patience, that excitement can be transmuted into the bigger task of winning the battle against poverty, hunger and disease. Having seen what can be done in the peaks, we can be more encouraged to transform the foothills.